‘The days are evil’, wrote the Apostle, and it appears that they still are. We can hardly find words to describe the depths to which we have sunk in our own day. There was just as much evil in former days, but our generation is guilty of new depths because of the attitude of most people towards sin.
Many in authority appear to hold the view that the way to handle sin is to legalise it. Homosexuality, drug-taking and pornography fall into this category, to name but three.
If the statistics are right, the United Kingdom has a higher divorce rate than any other country in Western Europe. What a disgrace! What a betrayal of our Christian heritage. What a blatant rejection of the Bible. What a defiant overthrowing of God. And what a disaster of catastrophic proportions for multitudes of discarded spouses and bewildered children.
But divorce is becoming something of a Cottage Industry. If so many can do it, it won’t come as a great surprise if Christians do it. Thus, we find, to leave your wife for somebody else’s is quite in vogue in the churches.
A mature professing Evangelical Christian finds no problem in taking the wife of some other mature professing Evangelical Christian! And anyway, enough is known of the adulterous behaviour of other mature professing Evangelical Christians to ease the conscience until it is ‘all over’. But is it all over?
How does it all begin? A look, a thought, a desire, a word, a liberty, an indiscretion; and somebody else is on the downward trail. Once the heart has been allowed to wander, it is hard to recover it.
The Word of God shows how desperate a sin it is. Contrary to society’s view that ‘everybody is doing it’, Proverbs 6:32 tells us: ‘Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding: he that does it destroys his own soul’. That is God’s verdict.
Adultery is no small thing. By it, a man destroys himself. What a thought! And yet the devil paints it in such bright colours that, to thousands, it is the obvious route to happiness and satisfaction.
Are any readers of these lines in the way of temptation? And will God show you mercy before you destroy yourself? The ‘wiles of the devil’ are in no way diminished. Do not presume on your strength, but rather remember that greater than you have fallen.
In Thessalonians 5:22 we read: ‘Abstain from all appearance of evil’. We ought to avoid, in every way possible, even the suggestion of compromise with the ways of the world.
A local pastor, saying goodbye to a girl who had attended a children’s meeting, kissed her on the cheek. Harmless enough, he no doubt thought. But an unsaved relative of the girl witnessed this and immediately reported him to the police. The last we heard was that he had been out of his pulpit for weeks, pending ‘investigation’. Can we be too careful?
Even the great John Bunyan found that a kindly but unwise action could create much difficulty. A lady named Agnes Beaumont was much taken with his preaching, but her father was extremely opposed to this. After some while, her father, with great reluctance, did give her permission to go and hear Bunyan. This was in February 1674. Arrangements were made for her to ride over with a friend, who, for some reason, did not turn up.
Just then Bunyan himself rode by on his way to the meeting and was asked to take Agnes on his horse. Knowing her father’s views he hesitated, but was prevailed upon to take her. From a distant field her father saw the two of them riding together, at which his anger knew no bounds.
On her return he refused to let her in the house and she had to go and stay with her brother for about a week. Her father relented, on condition she gave up desiring to hear Bunyan, and she returned home.
Two days later, when father and daughter were alone in the house, the father died suddenly. Malicious rumour was sent around the district, by a lawyer named Farrow, that Agnes had poisoned her father and that Bunyan had supplied her with the means of doing so.
The whole parish was in a commotion, the funeral deferred, and the coroner called. The official verdict of the inquest was that no poison was found in the body and the charge came to nothing.
Never ‘all over’
God delivered Bunyan from what may have resulted in permanent moral scars. What would have become of all his mighty writings then? To be sure, it was a wicked attack of the devil to discredit the man of God and all the potential of his books. But on Bunyan’s part it was a foolish indiscretion.
Let us beware of giving even a hint of that which could appear wrong. It is not sufficient to say, ‘The Lord knows my heart and motive’. Others may misconstrue. And anyway, our own hearts can so easily deceive us. What we imagine to be ‘quite harmless’ may not prove to be as harmless as we thought.
And to those whose motives are evil, and who deliberately take another’s spouse, let the fearful words of 1 Thessalonians 4:6 ring in their ears: Let ‘no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter, because that the Lord is the avenger of all such’.
I heard of a professing Christian woman who said to her professing Christian husband, on leaving him for another man: ‘I’ll never repent! I’ll never come back! It’s all over!’ O, do not believe it. It is far from over. For the Lord is the AVENGER of all such.
We should remember that all our behaviour reflects on the Lord Jesus whom we profess to serve. Is it any wonder that unbelievers are sceptical of the faith, when those who bear the Saviour’s Name act in ways that are often worse than those of the world? May God keep us faithful to himself in these dark and wicked days. His way is always best.